Health problems among Latin-American and Middle-Eastern refugees in the Netherlands: Relations with violence exposure and ongoing sociopsychological strain

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Abstract

In two studies (n = 480; n = 156), the health problems (somatic, psychological, and migration-related complaints) of refugees were examined, in relation to violence, demographic, and asylum variables (ongoing sociopsychological strain). High frequencies for torture events and a substantial number of medical complaints were reported, but few cases of diagnosable Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) were identified (Study I: 6%; Study II: 11%). Not only reported violence, but also the current social situation contributed to the experiencing of ongoing health complaints. Refugees attributed their somatic and psychological complaints to illness (48%) and to torture (29%) and psychological complaints, in particular, to worries related to the postmigration situation (40%). Paying attention only to health complaints and to past violent experiences is too limited an approach in responding to the needs of refugees.

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